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tv   PBS News Hour  PBS  January 8, 2020 6:00pm-7:00pm PST

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captioning sponsored by newshour productions, llc >> woodruff: good evening, i'm judy woodruff. on the newshour tonight... >> iran appears to be standing down, which is a good thing for rties concerned, and a very good thing for the world. >> woodruff: ...president trump nsvows to impose new sanctnd calls for european countries to aabandon the nuclear dealer iran's missile attacks on u.s. forces in iraq. then, australia burning. the devastating toll of the historic wildfires that have darkened the skies of a continent. >> all the side of the highway was on fire. 't we thatew then di we weren't going to go back to anything. >> woodruff: and, personalized care: as d.n.a. tests skyrocket in popularity, genetic researchers promise individualized medical treatment.
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all that and more on tonight's pbs newshour. >> major funding for the pbs newshour has been provided by: >> supporting social entrepreneurs and their solutions to the world's most pressing problems-- >> the lemelson foundation. committed to improving lives through inventn, in the u.s. and developing countries. on the web at
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>> supported by ththjohn d. and ine t. macarthur foundation. committed to building a more just, verdant and peaceful world. more information at >> and with the ongoing support of these institutions: >> this program was madeth possible bcorporation for public broadcasting. and by contributions to your pbs station from viewers like you. thank you. >> woodruff: president trump says iran is standing wn, after firing missiles at u.s. troops in iraq but causing no casualties. chce again, foreign affairs correspondent nickrin begins our coverage. >> schifrin: with every military service chief standing at the c ready, tmander in chief today announced the u.s. would
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respond to iran's attacks,th t the military. >> as we continue to evaluateon opin responsto iranian aggression, the united statese nill impnishing economic sanctions on the i regime. >> schifrin: in one way, last night's attacks were an escalation: ballistic missiles fired from inside iran at u.s.or forceshe first time in decades. but senior u.s. officials tell pbs newshour they believe iran caobrated the strikes on tw bases in iraq to avoid casualties. and iranian foreign minister javad zarif tweeted that ira took and concluded proportionate measures, suggesting iran wanted to de-escalate. >> iran is standing down, which is good thing for all parties concerned, and very good thing for the world. >> schifrin: president trump reiterated his own decision to de-escalate, by saying he could work with iran. >> the destruction of isis is
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good for ira and we should work together on this and other shared priorities. we must all work together toward making a deal with iran that makes the world a safer and more peaceful. >> schifrin: iran called the missile strikes a response to this u.s. drone strike, that killed qassam soleimani, the head of iran's netwo regional proxies, and a general so popular, hundreds of thousands attended his funeral. his assassination was one of the u.s.' most aggressive moves at. iran, ev but senior u.s. officials toldho pbs ne they interpreted iran's response as minimal retaliation.d day, president trump emphasized a message of restraint. >> our missiles are big, powerful, accurate, lend fast. under nstruction are many hyperson missiles. the fact that we have this great military and equipment heaever does notwe have to use it.
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we do not want to use it. >> schifrin: senior iranian officials warned the military wanot their only tool, and called their ambitions, long- term. supreme leader ayatollah ali khamenei: >> ( translated ): these military actions are nugh. what is important is that the corrupt presence of america in this region comes an end. >> schifrin: iranian president hassan rouhani: >> ( translated ): the revenger at is to force america out of this region. the real revenge and the ultimate response by regional nations is when america is exlled from this region and its hand of aggression is cut off forever. >> schifrin: at any one point, there are between 60 and 80,000 service members across the middle east and afghanistan. 5,000 of them are in iraq training iraqi forces, and fighting isis. already, a majority of the iraqt parliarged the government to expel u.s. troops, and iraq'
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caretaker prnister suggested u.s.roops leave. it's unclear if, or when the iraqi governmentatill enforce but on the streets of baghdad, popular opinion is ant, and also anti-iran. >> ( transl iranian government, and the united states, provide material and moracompensation to the iraqi people for every missile that falls, and every martyr or woded person. >> schifrin: on capitol hill, the administration's top national security offi briefed congress behind closed doors. democrats said the claim soleimani represented a new, imminent threat, was unconvincing. >> to the extent that they provided facts, in my judgement, they d not support any claim of an imminent threat. >> schifrin: two republicans skeptical of the use of milita force, agreed, and promised to support a democratic effort to block president trump from waging war with iran. >> probably the worst ng i have seen, at least on a military issue, in the nineve years i erved in the united states senate.
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>> schifri but most republicans argued the predent was justified. >> it would have been negligent, it would have reckless, and it would have bn at intentional disregard for the safety of americans for the president not to act, and not to take out soleimani. >> schifrin: but despite that debate, today both president p and iran decided now w the time to deescate. >> woodruff: for a deeper look at all angles of the story, i'm joined by karim sadjadpour, an iran expert at the carnegie institute for international peace. it's a nonpartisan think tank in washington. foren affairs correspondent nick schifrin. and white house rrespondent yamiche alcindor joins us from pennsylvania avenue. thank you all for being here, nick. thank you for being with us after that rept. so, to you first, yamiche, walk us through the president's thinking here. you have these missi strikes by iran last night on u.s. interests, and then you have thr ident today talking peace.
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>> the president decided to pursue deescalation and talk about peace instead of military action against iran after houans hours of careful thinking through this with his to national security advisor advis. the president was gatheatd in the sin room, a secure room in the white house, where a lot of these issues e discussed and he had a range of options including military htion and decided to do deescalation becauwas relieved there we no americans killed by the strikes last night and relieved american equipment was able to detect those lessiles early on and pe were able to go and cover and be safe and, as a result, president trump decided to say, you know what, wh i want to do is sanction. the white house is looking at sanctions as a way to financially and economically respond to iran. there are some democrat lawmakers who told me they see that still as retaliation on tte unitedes' part, but the white house and president trump are essentially saying this is
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what we want to d because we want to pursue peace and didn't want this to getny worse or escalate any further. >> woodruff: so, nick, you have been talking to folks in the national security, the intelligwhce community. 's their assessment of these strikes? >> yeah, they're echoing wht yamiche is saying that the president gave a clear messageee ofalation, and when you talk to senior u.s. officials and the intelligence community there is an assessment in washington today that iran did not want any casualties. they calibrated this strike so that there were no casualties,se and thetary of defense mark esper talked about the te of damage that has ben on these base and there are actually now satellite photos we have about this damage and it shows what happened before the strike on the left and after the strike. he says itctually wasn't that significant damage. the targets were attackedia helicopter, tense parking lot. the idea was they did not target these bases in a way that would kill a lot of u.s. troops, although, judy, chairman of the
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joint chiefs mark milley justo talkedporters at the pentagon, he said there was an hntent for structural damage and intent to kill,at the reason nobody died wasn't iran's choice, but what yaiche w talking about, the early warning systems and the steps they took to tryo and avid casualties. but that's the chairman disagreeing a little bit withn other r administration officials. >> woodruff: so interesting. now, karim, what's your understanding thousand of the iranian leaders, how they see all of this after the esident's remarks ths morning? th well, i think iranian leaders view donald trump mix of mistrust, contempt and fear, fear at his impulsiveness and erraticness, and i think lastt night was ju opening salvo for iran. ma,t night was maximum dra minimal impact. i don't think they're going to necessarily ntinue in that vain and i think iran isighly motivated to try to make donald trump a one-term president, just as they feel they made jimmy carter a one-term present wit
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the 1979 hostage crisis. >> woodruff: we are being told and heard from the present that iran appears to be standing down. you're saying what?t >> i think this is going to be a sustained response from iran over the course of many months. one of the talking points you're not hearing from all iranian officials is they want all heamerican troops out of middle east. i can imagine a certain area whereby, six months from now, when americans are no longer paying attention, iran detans a group of american sailors in the persian gulf. in the past, they've always released these sailors after a couple of ds but they say they will only release them if america removes all troops from the region. t that's goi put donald trump in an incredible bind just ahead of theeneral election, and i think, given how unprecedented the attack was on qasem soleimani, we have to think outside the box aboutranian responses. >> woodruff: so you're saying we may be too quick to believe that tes hostilire completely over? >> i think we're just beginning.
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this is not concluded. >> woodruff: and finally, back to you, yamiche. obviously, we're in the middle of an election season, a presidential election season, which karim juscet efer what is the sense there the folks you're talking to about how any of this is playing o politically? >> well, the president's actions in iran and his speech today have really become a political call the fine here in washington and on the campaign trail. first you have the president through his reelection bid through the trump campaign now running ads saying hey, everybody be reectedcause he killed theni ira general on facebook and social media saying he should be sen as commander-in-chief because of that. i want to add the pesident made a misstatement about a democrat made the case that iran was able make the strike through money given to them by the obama administration. that's not entire accurate.
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judy, the iran nuclear deal wasu aboufreezing assets that iran already had. this was not just barack obama iting a check, although there was some money given to that. the other thing to note is that democrats and republicans still seem very split on party lines about the way they're seing the killing of this general. you have democrats largely skeptical, telling me and white house producer mary beth, that they aren't really buying the administration's assessment of whether or not there was an immediate threat. largely republicans are backing the prhsident onis, except for, as nick noted, mike lee, who said not only was this one of the wor h briefin attend bid top national security officials but also said he was insulted because at one point during the a briefing national security officials said eawmakers should not be debating whether the prdent should be doing more military intervention and hethaid he tooat as an insult becauseldhey she be able to talk about what the president is doing he president's own party
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questioning whether they're seen as an equal branch of government. ng'll closely watch how this plays out in wasn and on the campaign trail. >> woodruff: that's right. when we saw a little of senator lee with those comments a few minutes ago.ri alht, yamiche alcindor at the white house, nick schifrin re in the studio with me along with karim sadjapour. thank you ve much. >>hank you. >> woodruff: let turn now to capitol hill for reaction from lawmakers. first up, republican congressman mike gallagher of wisconsin. he's a member of the armedtt services com. he deployed to iraq twice as a commander for intelligence teams. congressman gallagher, thank you very much for joining us. we did hear the president say, in s manydsworthat the united states, iran appears to have stepped bac from the brink, but we're also hearing, and we just heard it from our analyst, karim sadjapour, that it very well may be that iran
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has other -- other things in mind. how do weknow that hostilities are at an end? >> well,eth too early to tell. the dust is indeed still settling, and i would expect iran to revert to its modus operandi for at least the last two years, but really the lastad three d, where it traditionally uses proxies, cuuts, terorists groups to do its dirty work for it. i do, however, think ini indications are promising that we've managed to reestablish some sblance of a credible military deterrent in the region. if nothing else i think the unanian regimederstands if they kill more americans we will stri f barcefully. i think that's a good thing.po i've sued taking soleimani and others off the battlefield. i th's a combination of maximum economic pressure and a credible military deterrent. you have to go back to 2003shen is the ltime the iranians suspended their nuclear program.
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i think that combination gives us more opportity to putore pressure on the regime and drive a wedge betwe the regime and people. what iran fears more anything se is its own people. >> woodruff: quickly, then, do you believe the president was too quick to say this morning that the iranian people deserve a great future, deserve pa? >> no, i think that's an incontrovertible se tement. anian people do deserve a great future and peace, and the primary obstacle to peace and futuree or the iranian peo their own terrorist-sponsoring murderous regime whicrecentl was soleimani's death squadsgu ed down 1200 iranian civilians and shut down internet for ten days in iran athe ost of hundreds of millions of dollars they don't have all because of fear of their own people. i think we need to reunite the traditional allies in the region d shia groups in the region around the idea that standing in the way of your fu in the way of independence, sovereignty and strength in the region is the iranian regime.
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>> woodruff: mold you now describe right now theon relaip between the united states and iran after all this is this i mean, last thursday e,night, the american peo think, thought maybe we were on the brink of war. today we hear the presidentin taabout peace. what is it? >> i think it's intense competition, and it will have,u know, nonkinetic forms. it will have kinetic forms. the iranians have been attacking us consisttly through proxies in recent years and i think the trump administratiab showed rema restraint in response to attacks of vessels in the straits of hormuz, and attacking the facility. but when they crossed the red line of killing an american and attacking ou embassy, that wa too much for president trump who knows what the future will vold. i think we've the iraqi people a chance. lost in all this is the fact thp iraqi have taken to the streets, been in tahrir sque are sitober protesting iranian influence?
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their country and corruption in eir own government, and i think we should send a strong signal now we're not going anywhere. we want to continue the partnership so effective in dismantling i.s.i.s. and we' not going to let iran and proxies stand in the way of that. >> woodruff: t more questions. do you now believe that the administration had clear evidence that general soleima was planning something new, a new threat against american interests that justified his killing? >> yes. c >> woodruf you share any of that with the american people? no, i'm a counterintelligence,en human intell officer by trade so i'm a bit hesitant to share anything i the realm of classified information but i see nothing change my basic assessment we needed to take action. eminence is not the standard here. we sent a clear red line that i you kill americans we will respond forcefully. >> we know speaker pelosi said today she's going to introduce a resolution to be voted on tomorrow, limiting the
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president'ability toake military action in iran without approval from congress. is the administration prepared to support anything like that, in your view? >> well, i don't know what the administration is prpared to support. i think my initial reading of the revolution is its counterproductive. their plans were to introduce it prior to having read any of thew intelligench suggests this is not a serious effort. there is language in the resolution that further puts the blame for the escalation on the hierican military which i is wrong and creates a false moral equivalence between the terrorist-supporting iranian regime and our own troops and people trying to keep america straight and it's uncliewl whether the war powers resolution largely ineffectual its lifetime has this option. the president has the authority and congress hast taken the time to repe. i would be for repealing that and relacing it with someing more tailored, though.
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>> woodruff: conikgressman gallagher, thank you very much.> hank you. >> woodruff: and now for a e mocrat's take. just this morning,d several of his democratic colleagues sent a letter to president trump calling for the administration to release to the llblic an unclassified explanation for g soleimani as well as their strategy for dealing with iran. colorado congressman jason crow, who serves on see house armed ices committee was one of them. representative crow is a former army ranger whserved in iraq and afghanistan and he joins us now. congressman crow, thank you so much for joining us again. how convinced are you? the first thing i want toask i that hostilities have ended between the united states and iran? the president today was talking peace, but how certain are you that there won't be another attack of some kind? >> good evening, juy. good to be with you again. i'm not certain of that. you know, if one this iear, i think we can expect iran to continue its realgi aggression, continue to do that it's done for decades and that is useproxy fces, use
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unconventional forces to try to destabilize the reason. their overarching goal is to remove the united states and iraq from the region because they know if they can do that they can be the main force in the region because nobody else can actually keep them in check. >> woodruff: we st ard congressman gallagher say he is absolutely convinced that one administraas justified in targeting and killing general soleimani. he also said he didn't think the standard had to be that there was an imminent threat. how do you see that?el >> i haven't seen anything that absolutely justifies the killing of general soleimani. to be very clear, general soleimani was a very bad actor. i was in iraq in 2003 as we started to see the improvised explosives and the roadside bombs increasing as a result of iranian intervention and it's very clear that he was a danger, but what's unclear to me is the justification this administration is relying on for the half oadministration is
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relyg on the imminent standard, which under article the president has the authority to defend the united states tnst imminent threats. the other half ofhe administration is coming out and saying they're relying on th 2002aumf. those are two different authorizations, two different sources of authority. the administration deserves to give us a clear answer about which one they're relyi on. but, overall, you know, we have not received the answers that we needed. i let a letter of over 40 of my colleagues in the house that we sent to the president earlier this morning in advance of the briefing, reoutlined eight questions that, you know, we deserve and the american people deserve to have answered about our involvement in the region, and those answers -- those questions have not been answered. >> woodruff: i want to ask you somethg the president said in his remarks today and that's he contends iran went on a terror spree with the money it recunved r the nuclear deal that it signed with the united states and other countriw . you see that? >> i haven't seen any intelligence and any factsat
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ever that corroborate that. that appears to be made out of whe cloth. it a very dgerous allegation to try to draw connections between those things. you know, irn has been a dangerous and aggressive actor in the region for decades. you know, long before the united states was involved in iraq and in the almost 20 years that we ha been involved in iraq, they do need to be checked, but, you ttempt to president's try to put this on prior administrations and draw connections between thinat don't have any factual connection is dangerous andma s it much harder for us here in congress to have a legitimate policy debate about the issue. >> woodruff: what congress' role in all of this? i jus t askedngressman gallagher about the resolution that speaker pelosi said she's going to b introducing and s,ving the house vote on tomorrow, war powaving limits on what the president can g without congressional approval and taklitary action against iraq. his comment was that it's not a all ear that congress has any
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role -- should have any role at this time. >> i would evehemently disagree. the founders vested in the unit authority to make war and to send our young men and women intoarm's way. 's up with of our most sacred and solemn reponsibilities. it's a responsibility i take seriously given my background. my military career start as a private, and i will never forget being private crow boots and a uniform, being asked to do things, and i later became an infantry officer, working on the ground in afghanistan and iraq, and sestng firnd the consequences of the decisions made in this town on young men and women throughout our country. you know, the responsibility to care for our sons and daughters and to make sure that we are d having a robusbate about when we do -- when we send those folks into harm's way is in the united states' congress, a it's a debate that we can only have if we're provided inform aion by the preside have a robust dialogue with them. >> woodruff: and you're saying
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that that n't the case? >> yeah, that is not happening right now. the president trying to notify us via tweet, having briefings that don't give us rmall the inion that we've asked for, even though we asked for that very clearly in advance. we need to be able to have thaon discus we have been at war for almost 20 years now, and i remember, in 2003, when i was a young infantry officer leading paratroopers in the invasion in iraq and on the streets ofar baghdad, i've the same political argument that some people are making now, that now is not the me to have that discussion, that, you know, we have to have that discussion later. well, here wee, thousands of americans have been killed over the last 20 years, tens of thousands have been wounded.sp we havnt over $4 trillion on these wars. the time is now to have that discussion about what is the future of security for america, what is in ou national interests and when are we going to send our young men and women into harm's way.
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o>> woodruff:gressman jason crow of colorado, thank you very much. >> thank you. >> woodruff: in the day's other ne, as iran confronted the u.s., it also faced a major air disaster. a passenger plane fromkraine went down outside the iranian capital, killing 176 people. john yang has our report. >> yang: a pink blanket. tattered books. markers of the lives lost when a ukrainian international airlines jet crashed just after takeoff, killing all 167 passengers and nine crew on board. at the kiev airport in ukraine, a father mourned. >> ( translated ): my son a f senight attendant. my daughter called at 6:15 this morning to say that in the usth were reporting that a plane had crashed, a ukraine
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international airlines plane. and then we found the video of the plane crashing. >> yang: the flight took off om tehran's internationa airport this morning bound for kiev.s, after two minut had reached about 7300 feet, and contact was lost.n iranficials offered conflicting explanations for the crash, but rejected suggestions that a missile downed the plane. ukrainian airline officials said the aircft had been in good working order. >> ( translated ): the plane was manufactured in mid-2016. itas received directly fro the boeing factory and was not used ever before. caere was no rebuke regarding the plane's technicondition. the last check was conducted on january 6, 2020,nd was in good condition. >> yang: it was boeing 737- 800, one of the world's most widely used airliner the model does not have the software implicated in the crashes of the 737-max, which has been grounded worldwide since march. as the investigation begins, ukraine's prime minister said
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his countries airles would stop flying to iran. >> ( translated ): we decided to suspend all the activities of all ukrainian aviation companies in iranian airspace until the causes of this tragedy becom clear. as soon as the causes are completely clear the decision will be reviewed. >> yang: inian investigators are taking the lead and hope to find clues in the recovered black box flight data recorders. they said they will not be sent to the united states analysis. for the pbs newshour, i'm john yang. >> woodruff: in washington, there was no bre in the standoff over a t nate impeachmial of president trump. last night, house speaker nancy pelosi insisted again on seeing the rules for a trial, before t transmitti articles of impeachment. the senate's republican majority leader mitch mcconnell shot back today. >> there will be no haggling with the house over senate procedure. we will not cede our authority try this impeachment.
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the house democrats' turn is ov. the senate has made its decision. >> woodruff:ouse democrats said they are united behind pelosi. but one senate demrat, richard blumenthal of connecticut, said starting the trial could force the hands of republicans. >> i think we are reaching a point where the articles of impeachment should be sent, and we should have votes on whether witnesses should be called. the cover up that senator mcconnell is engineering has to be broken at some point. >> woodruff: the articles of impeachment accuse presidentum of abuse of power and obstruction of congress. the death toll in australia's wildfires rose today to 2,300 fiters are laboring in new south wales, during a break from high winds and high heat. but, they say, the weather is also a hindrance. >> this rain that we've had
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hasn't been enough to extinguish the fire, but it stopped our ability to do back burning on a number of thres. so we haven't been able to set fires to try and control the fires.dr >> wf: we'll return to australia, after the news plmmary. half a million pin puerto 0 co still had no power today, and more than 250,d no running water, after tuesday's earthquake. it was the strongest to hit the u.s. tritory since 1918. many people slept outdoors last night, f fear their homes would crumble in afterocks. more than a thousand others eaayed in government shelters. the rate of cancers in the u.s. has fallen by the mosever recorded, going back to 1930. researchers at the american cancer society rept thrate was down 2.2% from 2016 to 2017. they credit progress against lung cancer, the leading cause of cancer death in the u.s.
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the fugitive, former nissan chief carlos ghosn, spoke out today, defending his decision to jump bail in japan. ghosn was facing charges of financial misconduct when he fled to lebanon last month. today, in beirut, he dismissed the allegations and called his detention a "travesty." >> i had spent the previous months being interrogated for up to eight hours a day without any lawyers present, witut an understanding of what exactly i was being accused of. j i lean because i wanted justice. that's why i left japan. i didn't run from justice. i want justice. >> woodruff: ghosn did not offer peany details of how he es britain's prince harry and his american wife, meghan markle, are stepping back from royal tties and going their own way. they announced tody want to gain financial independence and promote eir charities
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while dividing time between britain and north amera. buckingham palace called the situation "complicated" and said it will takeime to resolve. and, on wall street, stocks rallied onopes that iran and the u.s. will avoid outright war. the dow jones industrial average gained 161 points to close at 28,745. the nasdaq rose 60 points, and, the s&p 500 added nearly 16. still to come on the newshour: a continent caught in the grip of wildfire-- australians grapple with the magnitude of the loss. and the potential for d.n.a. testing to revolutionize individual medical care.
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>> woodruff: the devastation from the fires in australia is on a scale that is hard to comprehend. in a moment, william brangham will talk with a top official there about how the ment is responding. but first, a closer look at the toll. more than 20 million acres have burned, killing at least 27 people and destroying two thousand homes. hundreds of millions of animals are believed to have died,ud ing thousands of kangaroos and koalas. fires burned across the country last month. at the moment, new sou wales is one of the hardest hit areas. kylie morris of independent television news reports fr the town of rocky plain. >> reporter: mid-afternoon in the new south wales' high country, and it feels like driving at night. but these fires are so immense c theyate their own light, and trather. we're trailing a sike team-- five volunteer fire trucks and a lead car-- dispatched to a frontline fire station, the
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surreal outpost at rocky plain. there's concern over a spot fire that could threaten a small group of houses. but behind that, another lming danger. >> that's what they call that the dunn's fire down in there.or >> repter: the dunn's fire isns a ter that's already burned through more than 300,000 o hectares, anut of >> this is on e we've never seen before. o>> reporter: the demandsn the state's nearly 70,000 volunteer firefighters are now relentless. l ere's fatigue in the air at rocky plain as w ash and smoke. so are they just constantly in crisis mode now? >> you just have to set aside other work. i'm farming, so things aren't getting done on my f but, well, as it happens it's all in the path of the fire anywaso
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it might all go. >> reporter: this place seems to encapsulate the battle australians are locked in vainst these fires. this place a band unteer firefighters, who normally are nurses and teachers and scientists and farmers gathering together to fight with meager resources fires on a scale they've never seen in their lifetimes.t' >>frightening. >> reporter: is it climate change? >> i believe it is.ic the scientvidence is overwhelming. i think r present course is madness. we have to change the way we produce and use energy, or globally we have to do it. australia with a three degreemp ature rise frightens the hell out of me. this would be the norm. >> reporter: so every summer? >> this would be the future. s reporter: under that scenario the new normal forth coast beach rather than this, could be
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this. shthat's not seaweed, it'st the normally idyllic merimbula ma beach. fierceires still burning to rse south have laced the sand with spidery cin there are evacuees here too, who've fled those same fires. david iredale and his wife and their dog evacuated from aush property near eden. >> the sky just turned red right round the horizon then it went black. i decided it was time to go. >> reporter: on the outskirts of cobargo, the fire's already done its worst. taking the lives of two of its tiny populion: father and son rmers. shops on the high street and houses are gone. >> words can't describe the noise and the venom and the heat and the ferociousness. it was>>ust awful. eporter: who were you with at that stage? >> only my son.
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just the two hard, very hard. good boy. great people here. heroic people every house has e same story. >> repter: there's a pride here-- they've set up the relief center themselves-- and are taking care of one another. >> potatoes, bananas. >> reporter: the centro lesan out bananashampoo and comfort as well. denise works in thpost office, and her son tom on local dairies. the fire drove them out of their house at speed. >> all the side of the highway was on fire. a house was the alight that we drove past. we just knew thedidn't we that we weren't going to go back to anything. >> reporter: there was ntime to grab even a change of clothes, just a few keepsakes, the passports some jewelry. are you getting the official support you need? >> we do have to appreciate that resources are spread incrediblyo
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thr the whole state, in fact, over the whole east coast of austral. but they're trying to push the small communities into the bigger towns, so they're only having to worry about the bigger towns. so they're kind of forgetting about us a bit. >> this a water tank, where our mains water supply. >> reporter: this was a house denise built with tom's father, on ld that's been in her family for 50 years. the fire rushed over that hill, its heat so intense it melted the metal of her decorative doors, into a stream of silver, but they're recasting their loss into a new beginning.e' >> w done feeling like this. liwe just want to start ous again. >> for sure. >> reporter: as more roads openy l reveal more difficult truths: the intimate costs of this already catastrophic fire season. >> brangham: to examine the extentf the damage and the australian government's response, i'm joined now bytt
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david proud. he's the minister responsible for natural disasters and emergency respse in australia. minister, thank you uch for taking the time to speak us. could you just give us a sense of where you are now in the fight against these fires? >> we are currently working up our reonse to the reovery but also to a situation that'sfo ing over the weekend. again, we're concerned ability worsening weather con about later today, after the prime minister and i meet with our national security committee, we'll be going out and visitinge a numr of communities nearby, less than a couple hundred kilometers away, who have borne the brunt of these fires in the last couple of days and we will be going to look at what the needed in terms of recovery. we're tackling this on two levels, one in terms of e covery. these fires heen going since september in some parts to have the country and they're still go some parts we're helping with
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recovery, others we're still fighting so it's multitasked at the moment in terms of how we'redi resp to this disaster. >> many americans were surprised to learn the vast majority of firefighters in australia are volunteers. given the vasess of th fires, do you have any firemen and eqpment to fight the fires. >> we're very proud of ourgh firefirs. they're nearly 1% of our population. for them to be able to put their safety on the line for our fellow australians, we're proud of that. we're geographically dispersed into a number of small tons across the vast continent, so we made sure they're equipped with the bestools and cplimented by the aerial assets from the rthern hemisphere. we work closely. we've got nearly 250 firefighters fm the united states and canada here now. in fact, i met them in sydney
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aiort. some of them came about three weeks ago and anoth cohort came in early in the last 48 hours. >> we know that there are thousands of people who have been evacued fom their homes and towns. where are those people living right now and at's your sense of how long they have to stay away from home? >> wl, obviously, we try to repatriate them back into the homes as quickly as we possibly can and that comes after safy checks because a lot of the roads are aligned with trees, and those trees haveost a lot of their integrity and they have to be checked meticulously by arborists and firefighters, and as soon as that's done we try to get people back to their homes. that's the best way to recover is to get them back to their homes. over the 2,000-odd-hes we've lost so far, those people are being looked after in ceters, s but mo they're being looked after by family and friends. our insurance aencies ar cming in and making sure that they're acti swiftly in ter
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of the recovery. most of those homes are insured. those tht,at arebviously, we're a rich nation, a proud nation and making sure we look after one anther, bu invariably most are looked after by family and weclose-knit communities. a lot of the towns that have born the brunt are inmall rural areas where everyone knows one another you look after one another and that the australian way and we're damn proud of it. >> woodruff: we heard from alople who live in the ru areas who say they understand moving people into the city andg proteche denser areas, but that has to be an enormous challenge to pretect peopl spread over such a large geographic area. >> it is. that's why a lot thefi fiters are landholders themselves and some of them, tragically, threof those lunteer firefighters have lost their life during this event. they've given the ultimate
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sacrif their community and their nation while defending someone else's life and someone else's property, but, invariably, a lot of those rural firefighters are volunteers, they're professional but volunteers, and a lot of their homes, theotect by making sure they're prepared. this, in fact, is one of the most severe fires in our nation's written history. the fact that, while, tragically, we've now lost 27 and just over 2,000 hom without the professionalism of our full-time and voluntary firefighters, th would havebe a much more severe event in terms of loss of life and property, so we're proud of what's happened, but we're obviously cognizant of continuingo do better in making sure we are prepared but also that our recovery is building back better. the infrastructure that we build back is better, it's more resilient and it makes sure that our people are more resilient and safer for future events. >> reporter: climate change
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models predicted longer droughts, hotter heat waves that makes the conditions ripe for these kind of wildfires.e u all prepared, as some in the u.s. in california have been saying, that this could be the new normal for you. >> what i'm most proud of in terms of fire commissioners from the states is the training they undertook before thisvent. the first advice i got was the season was going to be earlier, more severe and protracted for longer periods, they were right and they prepared and they collaborated with you guys in the northern hemisphere and that's one thing, this hasgl become abal effort, and i think we should be very proud that we have been able towork collaboratively, and our research and development has collaborated between the northern and southern hemisphere and our assets are. >> best of luck to you fighting these firesminister david littleproud.
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>> thank you. >> woodruff: earlier in the show we mentioned the latest drop in cancer deaths. one of the many reasons for that is the rise of personalized medicine and an ever-expanding genetic database. miles o'brien looks at the larger hopes for that field, but the real questions and risks surrounding it as well. it's part of our ongoing coverage on "the leading edge" s ence, technology and medicine. >> reporter: like most of the 10 million people who have gned for 23andme, jessica algazi saw the do it yourself glimpse into her dna as little more than a lark. >> i h they were testing for. i just thought maybe we'd meet some cousins we don't know and maybe we'd find some things out, but i literally didn't even look into it. >> reporter: but the results unexpectedly led her to the
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intersection of heredity and health, and a stunning prognosis. >> i saw right at the top of the page, somethinbad is there, i look at it, and i'm like, "oh, god, this isn't good." >> reporter: the grireport: her d.n.a. includes a brca1 mutation. 72% of women who have it will develop breast cancer before age 80. 44% will get ovarian cancer. it was a devastating surprise. >> i had no family history of breast cancer, ovarian cancer. nothing to justify being sent for a brca test and it wouldn't have been covered by insurancei becausdn't have the right, i didn't have the family history, nothing. so, i kind of was somebody that fell through the cracks. >> reporter: a hollywood entertainment lawyer, jessica knew well the story of actress angelina jolie, who shocked many people by choosing to have a double mtectomy in 2013, after
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discovering she carries a mutated brca gene. so jessica faced a momentous decision: enabled by technologyi thmoving fast from the laboratory to our lives. it's called precision, oriz individu medicine. >> individualized medicine for aus is really understandi much about each individual patient as we possibly can. >> reporter: keith stewart runs the center for individualized medicine at the mayo clinic in rochester, minnesota. is this a revolution? >> i thinkt is. i think it's transformative. it's really a paradigm shift in how we think and manage cancer.r >> reporter: hat mayo, theyin are helpfind the genetic needles in the haystack that cause cancer and other genetic diseas. they built a huge biorepository for the national institute of health's "all of us" initiative. the goal: sequence the full genomes of one million americans. so, when you get to the day,
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where you have ts repository of a million sequences, million genomes. that's a very powerful tool for scnce is it? >> it's going to be an amazing tool for scientist and researchers for years, decades to come. >> reporter: it is an ambitious undertaking-- our genome consists of three billion distinct data points, that are assigned the letters atgc. by anonymizing and analyzing this rich trove of data, they hope to reveal the nuanced genetic interplay that is at the root of disease. the long term promise; inheritee es like cancer detected while they can still be cured. but in the short term, genetic insight is already saving lives. p allows doctors to tailor medications to theients, protecting them from adverse reactions and maximizing the efcacy of drugs aimed at fighting arthritis, high cholesterol, depression, h.i.v. and more. >> so rely, this is the camel's nose coming under the g
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tent in terms omics being right at the bedside. >> reporter: richard weinshilboum is a professor of medicine and of pharmacology at mayo, and a pioneer in theield of pharmacogenomics, which is focused on the interplay between anes and drugs. >> now we can scoss the whole genome and we find all kinds of genes that play a role in variation in drug response that we would have never imagined. where the world is going to go, i think, is preemptively to have that kind of genetic information parked in your electronic health record. >> reporter: direct to consumer genetic testing services like 23andme are pushing this trend. it's as simple as spitting into a tube, sealing it up - and shipping it off. a few weeks later, the results confirmed a lot of what i knew... the big surprise - i have anun ually high number of neanderthal genes it explains so much!
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but most important: the test uncovered no genetic diseases. siily drabant conley is 23andme's vice pnt of business development. >> i think a good way to thinks, about thise're a great screening tool. we're looking at lots of different-- er 90 different health conditions, and you're getting all that infoation. and then some of those things y require additional follow-up with aoctor. >> reporter: at first 23andme offered health reports without any federal regulation. but it is now an f.d.a. approved tool for assessing the risks for 13 diseases. but it's important to understand its limits. our d.n.a. has three billion pairs of letters, and 23andme only reads 600,000 of them, or .02%. it's like reading a book, but only every 5,000th letter. but d.n.a. is 99.9% identical in every human, so nearly all of the letters in this book are the
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same for everyone. the letters that vary from person to pers are called single-nucleotide polymorphisms, or s.n.p.s. so 23andme focuses on a subset of s.n.p.s-- it is more practical and much cheaper than reading the whole genome. t things that we are looking at in d.n.a. are the things that we know change between people, theyiffer and at's why we've chosen them. >> reporter: but buyer beware, and consider the story of matt fender. in 2013, he bought a 23andme but he didn'le for the standard genetic report from the company. he uploade to a third party website that compares the genetic report to hundreds of scientific papers. the report delivered a grim pognosis: that he had a mutated gene that carries a very high risk of alzheimer's disease. >> and in that moment, i was like, "yeah,"ike i can totally see this really grim future
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where in a couple of decades at most, i'm going to be likeate stage alzheimer's. and i was just in shock. >> reporter: almost overnight, he changed his lifestyle. he started running regularly and eating healthier foods. but after retesting, he learned it was a false posive five weeks later. he doesn't carry that particular mutation. he claims 23andme made the mistake. while the company doesn't deny a s.n.p. was misread, it warns downloading the raw data and using third parties carriesk. additional r >> i think some of those third parties have done a disservice potentially by not always having accurate information orrp intations. we can't control what they say. i sort of feel it's up to consumers, like if you want to take your data file somewherean have it interpreted, you need to know the risks of that. we're not going to be paternalistic and say you can't do it. but people need to be careful. >> reporter: this is what
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jessica algazi did. and once her doctors confirmed e 23andme report, she made the decision to have a prophylactic double mastectomy and removal of ber ovaries and fallopian she has noegrets. >> if you don't have the surgery, that means every single time you're ing in for mammograms and ultrasounds and you're just going toe freaking out that much more every single time. so, for me, it was a no braine >> reporter: so what began as a fun way to learn about heritag traits, became something deadly serious. >> they quite possibly saved my life. >> reporter: at the mayo clinic, they hope stories of pre disease detection and prevention like jessica's will become routine. >> i think if people are involved in their health, they understand more about it, and its part of their health record. i think that can't be bad. >> reporter: as mo people sign up, and the biorepository fills up, the collective d.n.a.
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database is growing fast. it might sound like a scary big brother overreach, but proponents insist all this data will remain anonymized, and thei s to privacy come with a huge potential reward. reearchers are convinceder pa are likely to emerge, making medicine more precise, predictive and preventative. r,r the pbs newshour, i'm miles o'brien, in rochesinnesota >> woodruff: and on the newshour line, a trove of letters written by the poet t.s. eliot to his lifelong friely hale were made public for the first timeast week. while it will take months or fen years for scholars to fully digest them, but revelations popped out right away. we took a look at some of them on our website, and that's the newshour for tonight.uf i'm judy woo join us online and again here tomorrow evening. for all of us the pbs
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newshour, thank you and see you soon. >> major funding for the pbs newshour has been provided by: audrey is expecting. twins! garnets. >> we want to put money asideth fo so change in plans. >> let's see what we can adjust. change in plans. okay. mom, are you painting again you could sell these. >> let me guess, change in plans? >> at fidelity, a change in plans is always part of the plan. c sumer ce >> consumer cellular understands that not everyone needs and unlimireless plan. our u.s.-based customer service reps can help you choose a plan based on howuch you use your phone, nothing more, nothing mless. to leae, go to
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>> and with the ongoing support of these institutions and individuals. >> this program was made possible by the corporation for public broadcasting. and by contributions to your pbs station from viewers like you. thank you. captioning sponsored by newshour productions, llc captioned by media access group at wgbh lidia: buba giorno. i'm lidiianich,
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